Although I still dislike them as a means of travel, there is one good thing to be said of boats: they provide ample opportunity and reason to speak with other people. I am beginning to understand more about my companions each day.
I ought to start things from the beginning. We returned to the port city and reunited Deedlit with Xavien; he seemed less happy than expected, however I also feel as if he the kind of man that is naturally stoic. Taz and Gareth left soon after, to discuss something I believe. Xavien paid us for our work, although Deth attempted to haggle him into paying us more. It is perhaps fortunate that Taz had already left by that point, otherwise I believe she would have joined his efforts. Regardless, he gave us the money and I divided it equally. I also had the chance to speak with Xavien with what we had experienced while in the city, and he mentioned that he knows not only the elf in the library but Vandal, Trina, as well as others whose names were familiar but that we had yet to meet. It seems they traveled together for a while, much as we have. I wished to ask him more about them and his story, but he seemed reluctant to speak about it, let alone continue entertaining company. Therefore, I turned my attention to Shel. I gave her the necklace I purchased for her—she was delighted, and wears it wonderfully—and made plans to meet with her later. I do not normally wish to give such gifts or speak of such things publically, but the others were distracted enough that I did not feel it was a problem.
After it became apparent that Gareth and Taz would not be returning any time soon, and given Xavien’s dour state, I decided to go to the marketplace and sell the ruby Shale had given us. I imagined it would fetch a higher price in the port city; at the very least it was not hard to find a buyer. Pneu and Lady Jaela accompanied me; I’d nearly forgotten that Pneu can be quite amicable when she wishes to be, if admittedly quiet.
Shortly after we sold the gem and divided the money, Deth ran up to us in a panic. Gareth’s mother had joined Fahrezz and the others, apparently, and was threatening him and Taz somehow. Deth needed us to accompany him to find them, and that was all he needed to say. I ran with him, anxious to find them and help. Pneu and Lady Jaela followed, although Anna did not show up until a later time.
The sight we found was an odd one. An older woman stood in the alley with a large bone golem behind her, and a small girl with a toy ball stood nearest us. Fahrezz was in the child’s body, and he made sure to taunt me. I nearly staggered when I used detect evil on him, his aura was so great. I will need to avoid such a redundancy in the future. I also found to little surprise that Deth is evil, as is Gareth’s mother. Gareth himself is not, however, which gladdens me.
Deth’s trigger-happy nature was appropriate for once; he shot the woman almost instantly. I quickly subdued Fahrezz’s host while the others entered combat with Gareth’s mother and the golem. I was worried at first that it would not be good to kill her despite the fact that she is evil, but Deth assured me we had permission enough to do so. Apparently she was the one that had sent the dog creatures after Gareth, and that was why he panicked. There is clearly more to this story than what I’ve been told thus far. Regardless, she was quick to flee and after that we were able to destroy the golem with relative ease. Gareth was knocked unconscious in the process and picked up by the golem, but between Lady Jaela and myself we were able to restore him to physical health once the golem was destroyed and we pulled him from the resulting pile of bones. Taz was fortunately largely unharmed, despite having spent most of the battle inside a bone cage of the golem’s making; Lady Jaela is to thank for destroying it before it caused Taz too much damage.
Of course, once the battle was finished there was still the matter of the child that was Fahrezz’s host. She regained consciousness with relative ease, and I asked her name: she answered only “Number 47”. According to Deth, mortals may only be hosts for Quori if the agree to it. In an adult this would likely warrant them being killed for aiding such an evil creature—assuming they were given full disclosure of what they agreed to—but I do not think a child is competent enough to understand what agreeing to such a pact entails. Thus, I wished to take her to a temple and find a way to free her of the influence of Fahrezz. The others disagreed, seeing her as a threat somehow. We fell to arguing, but before a consensus could be reached Pneu slit her throat. Lady Jaela and I attempted to stop her, but it was to no avail. I nearly turned my blade on her for such an act, until it became apparent that she had no idea what she had just done.
I was reluctant to believe her at first but looking back, such behavior is uncharacteristic of her. She does not shed blood without purpose, although I do not know if she would have thought of the child as guilty or not. Regardless, her confusion at my accusations seemed genuine enough and so I cannot blame her. It was likely her sister, Sally, which killed the girl, meaning that it seems she can take control of her body for short periods of time.
Of course, hindsight is always sharper than our view of the present. I was unsure of whether to believe her at the time and furious for what had happened regardless, and so I left before I did or said something I knew I would regret. It pained me to leave Gareth after all that had happened, but I trusted Deth and the others to watch out for him while I cleared my head. I knew I was in no state to help him, and did not wish to burden him further with keeping me in check.
Lady Jaela followed me, thankfully, as I made my way through the city to a park. I paced through there and she followed me, calming me down until I was able to discuss things in a rational matter. I expressed my frustration at the entire situation; I asked her if she thought there was even a possible right solution to such a thing. I know that killing the child was not the thing to do, and yet… I do not know if there was anything else to be done, either. Even if I had been allowed to take her to a temple, it is uncertain if they could have done anything for her. Sadly such thoughts are too late now. I will need to watch Pneu more closely from now on… as best as I am able to, at least.
Lady Jaela admitted that she is not always certain if there are right answers to every situation. I suppose this is what she was speaking of before, when she asked me about questioning faith… This worried me somewhat, given that she is the leader of a faith, but then she is still but a child and has much to learn. I hope she is able to better come up with answers than myself. I am far better suited to swinging a sword about than philosophizing. She jokingly mentioned that she is just the opposite, which did draw a smile from me. I think… between the two of us, we will be all right. The morality of the situation was not clear but we both acted as best we could to make it right, and I feel at times that is the most we mortals can hope for.
We spoke for some time after that, largely regarding the others in the group. I expressed my concern for Gareth given recent occurrences, and she told me she intended to speak with him; I’m glad for that. I also vented my frustrations with the others, not merely Pneu. I will not list their faults here, as such things are not worth dwelling on. I care for them regardless, and have faith that they will improve, besides. Even Deth, who is evil for the moment, is not beyond changing for the better. Dealing with them all is trying at times, but they are irreplaceable to me.
After we spoke and I had calmed down, we returned to the tavern. I had to bring her with while I met with Shel (although I very nearly forgot as such, I was so overcome with nerves) but she did not seem to mind. There was also a note pinned to my door, telling me where Anna was. I thought it was strange, and asked Taz to take care of finding her for me. She was happy to oblige, which I appreciated.
I met with Shel at the designated time and place. Lady Jaela was kind enough to give us space, staying just close enough that she could keep an eye on us but not being intrusive in the least. I was extraordinarily grateful for that; I prefer to keep such talks as private as possible. Shel did not mind Lady Jaela’s presence either, especially after I explained that I had made a promise to Gareth that I would not spend any time with her alone. She is regrettably—but understandably—terrified of him, and does not wish to make him angry. I made sure to explain to her that he only means well; they all do, even if their methods of showing it are… often unfortunate.
I told her I had gotten her note and asked if she had gotten mine; she had. Just to be certain, however, I told her I forgive her and still care very much for her. What she did, while undeniably bad, was at the very least understandable in light of the environment she was raised in. She protested, saying she still felt bad, but I told her she shouldn’t worry about it any longer. If I have it in me to consistently forgive the behavior of my companions, I can certainly forgive her. She smiled and said that after we left Ravenmoor she had hoped she’d see me again, even if she never expected to… I was glad to hear that, because despite myself I felt the same. And I told her that even if the situation isn’t ideal, I—I don’t want to lose her.
She was reluctant to agree at first—she said that even with Xavien and Deedlit she did little more than get in the way—and I was admittedly concerned about the possibility of putting her in danger. But I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving her in Arenal, so far from contact and travel, and while I could give her money to send her to Aundair I would rather spend time with her while I can. I may very well die on this journey—I have long since accepted that—and I want to have her beside me in the meantime, selfish as it may be.
So I told her as such—that I want her with me, and again that I still care so much for her—and she had one final question for me. She wanted to know if she was the one I really wanted… And I did not even have to think about the answer. I told her “yes”; that I would not have offered or said I cared for her if it were not the case. In response she hugged might tightly, and I leaned down to kiss her.
I did not realize how much I missed doing so until then. Lady Jaela whistled when I did—undoubtedly something she picked up from Taz—but I did not pay it heed. I simply smiled, knowing that in the morning I would get to see Shel again and she would be traveling with me.
I smiled the entire walk back to the tavern, in fact, where it seems the others had been keeping very busy. Anna was back from wherever she had been, and was working on something with Taz. I watched for a while, but it was very complicated and for the most part I did not understand what they were doing so I left to go to sleep.
In the morning we congregated for breakfast prior to leaving, as we always do. Needless to say, it caused a commotion among the others when Shel arrived with a bag in tow and I stood to greet her. Gareth immediately pulled me outside the tavern to speak in private.
He was not pleased in the least but not… angry, either. He seemed more worried and frustrated than anything. He asked me why life was hard, and I told him it is to make us stronger. It will do me to good to remember as such. He also told me I am an idiot for bringing Shel with, and I told him that he is probably right. I think if nothing else he understands what I feel for her, even if he does not agree with it. He said he would not “put his neck on the line” for Shel, and that he made no promises about keeping Deth in line, either. I assured him that I do not expect him to do either; I take full responsibility for her safety. Furthermore, I reminded him that Deth owes me his life and I trust him to honor that debt by not harming Shel. He seemed somewhat placated by that, but was also concerned about the fact that the carriage is already cramped, and one more person in it—particularly a person that many others in the group actively dislike—will only make things worse. Prior to reuniting with Shel I had noticed this problem, and was already planning to purchase a horse or two to alleviate the problem. I told him this, making sure to clarify that Shel would ride with me on one horse and that I would give him the other, as he is the other largest person in the group and cannot enjoy being cramped in the carriage.
He was satisfied with this arrangement, but reminded me also that Shel is not a combatant. When I mentioned that neither is Anna, he brought up the fact that Anna at least is crafty… Not to mention extraordinarily lucky. I cannot protest either of those statements, but neither could I stand the thought of leaving Shel. I told him as much, and he gave me a look that made it clear he was still very concerned. He then asked if I had ever seen someone I loved killed in front of me. I admitted I had not, and he assured me that while he had never experienced it either, it is not pleasant. He went on to say that he did not want to see me break down if she were killed… He cares about me, I am glad for that. He does not say as such directly, but I believe conversations like this show it.
I reassured him that I would not allow myself to break if, goddess forbid, something were to happen to Shel. He stared at me for a moment, as if judging the certainty of my statement. Whatever he saw must have been enough to soothe his worry for the time being, as he relaxed somewhat and finally consented to her coming with. I thanked him, and was about to say something more—I had not yet had the chance to ask him how he was holding up after the days’ past events—but then Deth informed me mentally that Sally was claiming she had never killed a blonde before.
I bolted. Of course it was no difficult feat for Gareth to catch hold of me and prevent me from getting too far, which was frustrating but I understand his concern. He demanded to know what was going on; I told him but before he released me he insisted that I calm down, and promise I would not do anything rash. I gave him my word and then I ran the remainder of the way back into the tavern.
Sally was floating outside of Pneu, scaring Shel nearly to death. Fortunately she cannot do anything to her like this, but that did not soothe my worry in the least. I told her she would not harm her, and that I would strictly insure this. The first appropriate temple of the Sovereign Host that we run across I am going to inquire as to a means of removing her from Pneu, or at least removing her control over her; I am unsure if “Protection from Evil” will be enough. I will do the same for any future hosts of Fahrezz that we come across… Ironically, it was mention of Fahrezz that got her to leave Shel alone for the moment. Deth and Taz told her that he would be happy to know that she was killed—I do not doubt that—and so she would only be helping him by harming her. It would do me well to remember Sally’s hatred of him in the future, should I need to stoop to negotiating with her.
After that, Taz brought up many of the same concerns Gareth did: namely, that Shel is not a combatant, nor is she good at crafting as Anna is. I told her that I already knew this and had discussed such things with Gareth. I also told her that if things become too dangerous, I will pay for her fare back to Aundair and the living expenses she would incur while staying there. I hope I will not have to, of course. Regardless, my words seemed to placate her for the time being.
With our situation more or less settled upon, we left the tavern to find the boat the high councilman had provided us. It was incredibly large, with a suitably sized crew. They showed us to the rooms we were each provided with, and then we set out. All of them were extremely respectful and even amicable to us, although in the coming days Pneu and Deth were able to fantastically ruin their notions of us by causing mischief constantly. Ah well. They did not harm anyone, which I suppose is a start.
Shortly after the living arrangements on the vessel were made, I sat down beside Gareth on the deck. For a long while I had been thinking over how to best repay him for all he has done, and thought I had decided on something acceptable. I told him that although I know he prefers to wander, for as often and as long as he wishes he has a place at my family’s table and a room in our estate. It was the least I could do, I thought, but— in response he cried. Only a single tear, but a tear nonetheless and I have never seen him so much as saddened by something before.
I do not want I worry I overstepped some bounds by making such an offer… Although it will always stand, regardless of whether he chooses to make use of it or not. I apologized, of course, and wiped the tear away before I hugged him because I was at a loss for what else to do or say. He said it wasn’t my fault; that he merely did not “do family things” as he put it. That would make sense, given what we saw of his mother. I asked if there was some other way I could repay him; in response he called me “weird.” I do not think h Am I truly so strange? He claimed the most normal parts about me were my horns and tail. I asked if I was strange because I cared, but he insisted that it is normal for people that care, to care. I asked why I was strange, then, since I cared about a number of people. He said it was because I cared about him, and so in response I listed off all the reasons I had to care about him. He did not seem to think such a list could exist, so of course I had to prove it did. Here is what I remember of it:
1. Saved my life at least twice
2. Keeps me in line and helps me be a better person
3. Consented to me bringing Shel with
4. Helps protect the others in the group
5. Helping save the world, although he has no obligation to
6. Most of all I like having him around; he is my friend.
When I finished the list he called me a ham, of all things. I do not understand why he would call me that, but before I could pry more Lady Jaela shooed me off. I hope it was not because I was making Gareth feel worse. I caused him to cry once already, I would feel terrible if I were to do so again. I feel as if I am a horrible friend to him right now, offering him things he does not want and unable to help him understand that it is all right and even good for people to care for him. Perhaps Lady Jaela was more successful in her endeavor, if that was indeed what she spoke to him of. I truly hope she was. He is a good man, and there is no reason for him to think himself incapable of being loved.
Fittingly I later spoke to Deth, asking him to keep an eye on Gareth. He admitted that he already does—quite closely—which I am not surprised to hear. It is more for my own peace of mind that I asked… Things cannot be easy for Gareth, given everything that has happened, and I want to be sure there are people there for him. Deth also mentioned off-handedly that he has known about Gareth’s mother since the first week of our traveling together, and wanted to kill her even before it was known she had joined with Fahrezz. It was not my place to ask him why, so I did not, but I do wonder what she did to make Deth hate her so. Undoubtedly it was something to Gareth, but…
I also made sure to thank Deth for… not shooting Shel, although I should not have to phrase it as such. He made it clear he was only doing such on my behalf, which I know full well but still appreciate. He then proceeded to make a lewd remark regarding the fact that I have still promised Gareth that I will not be alone with Shel for any period of time at all—and I had to storm off for a moment in sheer embarrassment. Honestly, I do not think any of my friends have the least bit of shame or sense of decorum—!
But I digress. I returned quickly, because I was still not done speaking with him. I told him that even if he was only refraining from harming her on my behalf, I fully believed that she would prove herself a good person and trustworthy. After all, my trust in him was not misplaced. When I told him this he tried very hard to insist otherwise, but eventually I prevailed in convincing him that I had not been wrong to make the choice to trust him. Even still he told me I should “cut my losses” and not “gamble” again, but I told him relationships with people aren’t like that. He tried to assert otherwise, but for all he claims to know about mortals the fact remains that he still understands very little about them. Otherwise, he would not have come to me for advice about his feelings regarding Gareth. He did not have much to say in response to that, as I expected. I was in a much better mood following our conversation.
The next few days passed without much event, although as mentioned before the others made sure to keep entertained in a number of occasionally unfortunate ways. On our third day of travel I approached Taz, and asked her to speak with me over dinner. I needed her advice on how to best handle the situation with Lady Jaela and Crozen; she seemed genuinely surprised that I was coming to her asking for help. I told her that she off all people seems to know the workings of politics best, and would know better than myself how to deal with dishonest people. Although many of the laws of Thrane do not apply to me now that they have been handed down by illegitimate authority, I am far from experienced in the realm of illegal activity.
She asked me what I knew of the situation already, and I told her as much as I knew from my initial discussion with Lady Jaela and Deth. I explained that some of the cardinals were still loyal to Lady Jaela, and that we would need to return her to the capitol in order to prove she was not only still alive, but still a legitimate Keeper of the Flame. A good deal depends on variables that, at the time, I did not know. We decided that proper plans could not be made until we spoke with Lady Jaela; we thus agreed to speak with her the following day.
Beyond the business of the conversation I found Taz is delightful to simply speak with, even if our views vary on a number of levels. I enjoy learning about her perception of the world, even if it saddens me at times.
She comes from a poor background, and although she is an elf and thus very old compared to myself, she did not see much of the Last War. She was instead busy hiding away in the shady parts of town, although she did have some experiences with warfare. That is how she came into contact with the woman that knows the pirates we encountered, if I recall correctly. I have no doubt that her experiences and upbringing were why she is so suspicious of people, and why she can be so ridden with avarice at times. Her concept of family is only “people that you owe”, which… pains me to hear. There are so many people in this world that have been grievously hurt, or forced to grow up in circumstances nothing short of horrible. I do not doubt she is one of them; she is so guarded. At one point I asked if she was well; her drinking earlier had raised my suspicions. She assured me she was fine, and while I could tell that at that moment she was, something larger was weighing on her mind. She was not inclined to tell me what it was, so I did not pry. Still, it is unfortunate she has such a difficult time trusting people, and so often assumes the worst of them. I know that there will always be people that wish to do one harm, but they are not the norm. I hope one day she will understand that.
She also told me to my face that I am sheltered, and I told her in return that I will be the first to admit as such; that much I have learned from our travels. Growing up I rarely encountered anything worse than occasional verbal barbs or disdainful glances from fellow nobility that my mother and I would meet in Fairhaven. We never traveled to or through the more dangerous parts of the city, so I saw little of the crime and poverty Taz knew. Not only that, but bandits or enemy soldiers rarely troubled the estate. I believe that had to do more with my family’s reputation than the placement of the estate; we are a relatively short distance away from Fairhaven and I knew many other estates near by that were troubled while we were left alone. The truth of the matter is that there are few people who would attack the estate and surrounding lands protected by a house of tieflings, let alone one headed by a paladin known as the “She-wolf of Aundair”.
I told her all this, along with some of my family’s history and what exactly tieflings are. I explained how we must strive against our blood and the impulses it calls us to, and how because of our success in doing so and the teachings of Dol Arrah I believe there are few indeed who are beyond change and redemption. This is why I tolerate the misbehavior of the others; I firmly believe that all of them will—and have—become better people. I do not think she put very much stock in my beliefs, but I don’t mind. It is not the duty of a paladin of Dol Arrah to forcibly convert others, but rather live as a beacon of light so they might see the rewards of virtue and seek it on their own.
On that matter of discussion, I asked her why she had not tried to better her circumstances. She has certainly made enough money adventuring that she would not need to return to such a life after traveling with us. She said she enjoys what she does, which I suppose is reason enough for some to continue what they do. I do not think it would be healthy for her, but I will not stop her either. I will simply continue being her friend, and encouraging her to continue putting her skills to a more noble use as she has with us.
We also discussed crafting for a bit, and she explained to me what she and Anna had been working on: combusting arrows. I was most impressed. She said there are a number of things that she’s capable of crafting; I will have to keep this in mind in case I require something to be made. She also mentioned that she had found Anna in jail the previous day… I will simply say that I am glad Taz was able to get her out of it. After dinner and our discussion we went fishing. It was a most enjoyable end to the evening.
During the afternoon of the next day I spoke with Taz and Lady Jaela about the political state of Thrane, and what ought to be done in order to most effectively return Lady Jaela to power. As we had discussed before, the truest way to return her to power is to reconnect her to the Flame itself. Her former dragon guardian may make this difficult, given that it responds to and protects exclusively the Keeper of the Flame; until she is returned to that position, it will likely regard her and the rest of us as a threat. There is also the possibility that since she has been disconnected from the Flame, a new Keeper has been chosen by it. This new Keeper may or may not have been bent to Crozen’s will, through magical means or otherwise. This could prove particularly problematic in that the Silver Flame may not re-take Lady Jaela as its Keeper if it has already chosen another one… And ousting Crozen and the Quori from power within the Church will be significantly harder without a Keeper of the Flame to wield authority enough to do so.
Of course, none of this will matter if no new Keeper has been chosen. In that case our work will be easier, although there are still a number of other challenges we will face. Lady Jaela is not certain if the allies within the Church she once had will still be her allies when she returns; Crozen is a master manipulator and torturer. On this note, however, she did have information and evidence linking him to a number of assassination attempts. This information is carefully stored within her room, assuming it had not been found and subsequently destroyed. If nothing else, we may be able to rely on this as a means of ousting Crozen and his associates.
Our best option is to return to Flamehold and have Pneu observe Crozen in her own way, before deciding on our next move. Very likely we may have Lady Jaela fake her own death, either by Taz creating a false body called a “Simulcra” (should she have the skill to do so by the time it is necessary), or by finding herbs that will give the illusion of death for Lady Jaela to ingest. Obviously I would much prefer the former option, but should the latter prove necessary Taz will accompany Lady Jaela’s body and Deth will keep in contact with her. I was quite surprised that Taz volunteered, but glad. I believe she is growing more fond of her each day. I had thought of having Deth do as such—although he is a traitor to the Quori now, he could enter under the pretense of having killed Lady Jaela as a means of returning to their good graces—but Taz assured me that the Quori are not the type of people to take traitors back no matter the reason. Yet, she later said we ought to have a plan in case Deth were to betray us to the Quori. How odd.
That same comment about having a plan in case Deth were to betray us prompted Lady Jaela to remark that perhaps Taz ought to begin sleeping with him as she does Gareth in order to keep him here. Honestly, where does she get these ideas? That is not how such things work, not in the least! Gareth is staying with us because he is a good man and our friend; Deth is staying with us because he is fond of us despite his protests otherwise. Taz is a lovely woman but I am certain the sating of her sexual appetite has nothing to with why they are or will stay with us. Clearly the others have been a much more detrimental influence on Lady Jaela than I had previously imagined. I understand that their behavior is their own volition, but I do wish they would be more discreet about it if only to keep from imparting the wrong ideas onto her. I do not mind Gareth teaching her the vital points on a body, as it will help her defend herself, and learning dice games from Taz is unsavory but far from harmful. But misconceptions like that have the potential to hurt her seriously as she grows older.
…Regrettably, it does also cause me to consider that perhaps I ought to explain the proper matters of physical love to Lady Jaela. I had hoped to avoid such a conversation until I had children of my own, but to think on it now she is four short years from adulthood and she ought to know the truths of the matter. I do not know if the Church of the Silver Flame allows its Keeper to marry or love, but in the wider scope of things it is better for her to be properly informed rather than not. I certainly would not wish for her to keep her current ideas of what it means.
Regardless, Taz also stated that she has some contacts in Thrane after all that may be able to assist us as well. I expect we will rely on them as well as Pneu’s observations to judge the political climate and act accordingly. If it turns out that we must bring Lady Jaela herself into Flamehold under the pretense of death, I will use the amulet she wears in order to keep her from sustaining any damage—assuming that it is kept on her. I truly would like to accompany her myself, but given that I am not allowed to lie even in these circumstances, it would be nothing short of foolish for me to do so. I believe the plan we have is a good one, given what information we have. I will continue to consider other possibilities as we travel, but this is certainly a respectable start.
On lighter matters I feel as if I ought to note that every now and again throughout the past few days Shel has been wont to run up and hide behind me; I was somewhat startled the first time she did so. All but invariably it has been due to some cruelty or japing on the part of my companions, but at least they have not harmed her outright. I would not stand for that. I do my best to reassure her each time that they will not harm her—that their behavior is only show—and she slowly seems to be growing less skittish around them as a result. I’m glad. She has also proved a great comfort to me as well, whenever my companions’ antics are too frustrating for me to wish to deal with. One such time when I sought her out she asked if I was allowed to be alone with her yet. I blushed and spluttered, of course, and sadly had to answer that I was not. I ought to speak with Gareth about such things; I certainly do not need to be chaperoned when with her any longer. Although… We are not married, and I am still under the obligation to my house to sire no bastard children. I will have to take this under consideration. Perhaps Taz would know of some preventative measure to be taken, although I dread the thought of asking her… But then, it may be better if we continued to merely spend time with one another chastely for the time being, so that I might come to know her better. Although it is not as if we would cease to do so if we were to spend nights together, and she has asked specifically to do so. I cannot rightly disappoint her… Perhaps if I assure Gareth and Taz both that I will have Dawnslayer with me when we are alone, it will soothe their worries, particularly Taz’s. I intend to always have the sword with me—to do otherwise would be an insult to Dol Arrah—so it would not be a lie.
I also spoke with Shel about keeping her safe, and learned a number of things about her that will help me to do so. I am going to teach her to wear light armor and use a shield in the coming days, and purchase her a sickle with which to defend herself in emergencies. Fortunately I do not expect she will need to use it, as she knows how to ride well enough and so can safely accompany me on the horse I will buy. No doubt the others will protest her carrying a weapon, but I might always say that if they feel she is a viable threat while armed then they will no longer be allowed to reasonably complain about her inability to defend herself. Beyond that she has few skills that could be of use in our travels… However, I feel that if nothing else she will learn something on the way.
Afina was rather distracting through most of our conversation, although thankfully her commentary was not snide but merely embarrassing in that she found us both “cute”. I worried Shel by inexplicably blushing at least once, and lost my train of thought a number of times. She seems to be a nice enough woman despite this; her behavior is certainly not born from spite.
Shel told me about her time between now and when we first met. She left Ravenmoor soon after we did, moving from inn to inn with money her father had given her for such a purpose. She did not want to remain after what had happened for fear of her life, and I do not blame her. Soon enough Xavien and Deedlit found her, and brought her along in order to deal with people during the daylight hours. They traveled through the halflings’ lands, but did not see any of the dinosaurs there. She noted she picked up a bit of Elven while traveling, but nothing substantial. I asked her if she had given any thought to following a faith, after… all that had happened with her last one. She confided that she was somewhat wary about religion given her past, but was willing to at least learn about the deities of the Sovereign Host and the Silver Flame. She expressed particular interest in the teachings of Dol Arrah, which gladdened me. While I would not want her to follow to her teachings solely because of my own faith, if she becomes interested in them because of myself and comes to genuinely love them on her own, I could not ask for more.
Our conversation ended after I explained the threats facing us, and why we are traveling to begin with. I took particular care to explain Fahrezz and the other Quori to her, as he is the threat I will have the most trouble defending her against. He and the others are also the only ones I feel we have cause to have legitimate worry over in regards to the ability to kill or otherwise stop us in our quest. She seemed to understand most of what I said, although she admitted that—understandably—much of it also went over her head. It is a great deal to take in at once, but I do not doubt that in time she will come to understand things better and even become a helpful, vital member of our group.
Despite everything that has happened in the past days, I am optimistic about the future. There have been a few setbacks and unfortunate incidents, but I believe things can and will continue to improve. We ought to reach Xendrick within the next two days; I am looking forward to docking and making more progress.